National Lawyer's Guild Joins Objection to Puryear Appointment

You read it here first. See Jay J. Johnson-Castro’s Christmas letter to the President–gm

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Press Release
February 22, 2008

NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD ANNOUNCES OPPOSITION TO FEDERAL JUDICIAL NOMINATION OF CCA GENERAL COUNSEL GUS PURYEAR

On June 13, 2007, President Bush nominated Gustavus Adolphus Puryear IV for a position on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Mr. Puryear currently serves as vice president and general counsel for Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest for-profit private prison company. If appointed he would serve as a federal judge in the same jurisdiction where CCA is headquartered.

Since 2000, at least 260 federal lawsuits naming CCA, company subsidiaries or CCA employees have been filed in the Middle District of Tennessee. Such cases would constitute a conflict of interest for Mr. Puryear, and assigning them to other judges would not be an effective use of judicial resources.

Of greater concern is that Mr. Puryear lacks familiarity with the federal courts and has little trial or litigation experience. By his own admission he has tried only two cases to verdict; he has been personally involved in only five federal cases, most recently a decade ago. He is not admitted to practice before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is over the Middle District of Tennessee, and received only a “qualified” rating from the American Bar Association rather than a “highly qualified” rating.

Both Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker strongly support Mr. Puryear’s nomination. Neither Senator has acknowledged the substantial financial contributions received from Mr. Puryear and his employer, CCA – which include over $80,000 to Senator Alexander and $27,000 to Senator Corker since 2004.

Further, Mr. Puryear mentioned in disclosure statements that he is a member of the Nashville-based Belle Meade Country Club. The fact that Mr. Puryear maintains membership in an exclusive, predominately white club that did not admit its first minority member until 1994, and reportedly does not afford voting privileges to female members but only to male members, is a matter of significant concern for a federal judicial nominee.

In an Associated Press national wire article concerning Mr. Puryear’s nomination, Vanderbilt Professor Stefanie Lindquist was quoted as saying his judicial appointment “might slide through as a compromise.” The National Lawyers Guild does not believe the people of Tennessee should have to compromise or settle for a less-than-qualified federal judge to represent their interests in U.S. District Court.

The National Lawyers Guild calls on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary to vote down this unqualified, conflicted and controversial judicial candidate.

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